2 years ago - 9 minute read

Betting on Place Markets in Horse Racing

Betting on horse racing can sometimes feel like a fool’s errand. The high number of variables and unpredictability is what makes it such a thrilling and exciting sport to bet on, but it can be painful if you’re on the wrong end of a losing streak. And this is why so many punters look to place betting for a less volatile route to profit.

Place betting means betting on a horse finishing in one of the designated places. In practice this means finishing in the top 2, 3 or 4 depending on the number of runners in the race. For example in a race with 8 runners you can get paid for finishing in the top three. And you’ve probably placed a horse-racing bet on the place markets without even realising it.

Every time you make an each-way bet then you’re actually placing two bets, one on the win-only market and one on the place market. At a traditional bookmaker this is done automatically for you, while at Matchbook you need to place the two bets separately. It adds a couple of seconds onto the process, but it gives you a huge amount of additional benefits.

The first is that you can solely focus on place betting if you are confident your selection is in the top tier, but less confident it will win. This greatly increases your chances of winning although it also reduces the odds compared to a straight win only bet as a result. For example a horse that is 10.0 to win may only be 2.5 to place in a typical 8 runner race.

Place betting is an example of what bettors call lower variance betting, which generally means smaller more frequent wins and is a great strategy for managing a bankroll. But you need to be careful in choosing the races you bet on…

The magic 8 ball

When it comes to place betting not all races are created equally. The number of runners, and the type of race, dictates how much value the place betting market contains. You want to bet on races where the maximum number of places are paid out and this all depends on the number of runners taking part.

There are two magic numbers you need to be aware of that turn a great betting opportunity into a terrible one and vice versa: 8 and 16. These numbers correspond to the runners needed in any race to increase the number of places paid out from two to three and three to four respectively.

A race with 8 runners will pay three places and a race with 7 runners or fewer will only pays two places. This, we probably don’t need to tell you, is a huge difference. These can be great markets for place bettors although you need to tread carefully when selecting your horses.

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Extra place value

The next magic number is 16. If there are 16 runners or more in a handicap race then four places will be paid. Non-handicap races will usually only pay out three places no matter how many runners take part. It’s also worth noting that in races with fewer than 5 runners there are normally no places paid.

Another number to keep in mind is 12. Odds on place markets for 8-11 runners will often be tight compared to the win-only market because of the each-way markets paying out places at 1/5 of the odds. Races with 12-15 runners have an each-way pay-out of 1/4 the odds so those place markets will tend to have slightly better odds compared to their win-only price as a result.

So in summary we’re looking to find races with 8 or 9 runners or 16 or 17 runners and we’re definitely looking to avoid races with 7 or 15 horses taking part. It also pays to focus on handicaps, where horses carry differing weights, and to keep an eye on races with 12-13 runners for some extra value.

Finding the right profile

One of the other keys to profitable place betting is finding horses that fit a certain profile. Front runners who will go for boom or bust are not where you want to put your money in the place market. These can typically be seen from form guides that look something like 179160.

Horses with form showing consistent placing without ever winning such as 2343422 can be great value bets. But the form is not always a guide to how a horse runs and it pays to dig a little deeper on sites such as Smart Bets to get a guide to a horse’s profile and previous runs.

In longer national hunt races a horse that is known to stay over long distances is often a lively place betting contender, while one with pace but question marks over their jumping is less attractive. It’s also important to pay attention to any change in jockey, going conditions and the course type and how that horse performs with each factor changed.

In flat racing one again front runners, who can frequently fade at the finish and drop out of the places, are also not high on the list, while hold-up horses who sit at the back before making a sprint for the line can be a great option if chosen wisely as they fly past tiring horses. Although pay attention to the type of race, as this is less of a factor in 5f sprints than mile races.

Hedge your bets

One other big advantage of betting on the place market is it offers you the ability to hedge your bets when you’ve picked a likely winner from a race. By this we mean you can reduce your risk while not diluting your profits too greatly. Let’s look at a simple example.

Let’s say you’ve backed a horse for £100 at 3.0 to win in an 8-runner handicap race. Looking through the card you notice two other horses with very consistent form over these type of races who you don’t think will win but could run your selection close. They are both priced around 7.0.

You could place small win-only bets on these selections, but another option is to bet £50 on both in the place market at around 2.0. If as expected your selection goes on to win you will also benefit from either horse placing. If either wins ahead of your selection you will recoup some of your losses.

Rather than straight each-way betting this kind of flexibility allows you to carefully manage your risk and to maximise your profits at your own discretion. The power is back in your hands and that is what betting on Matchbook is really all about.